Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

At Local Cemetery, Patching the Past

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

At Local Cemetery, Patching the Past

Article excerpt

BRADENTON

Ricardo Ramos grew up in the neighborhood, but he would never walk past the creepy old cemetery with the haunting cement vaults, rusty iron fences and scraggly Spanish moss drooping from the tall oaks above.

"It was scary to me," he says.

Not much has changed since Ramos was a child because there is still something a little off-putting about the Major Adams Cemetery on the corner of 9th Avenue West and 3rd Street in Bradenton. The land was donated by Major Alden Joseph Adams in 1892 "to be used as a burying ground forever."

Ramos is now Public Works Section Manager for the city of Bradenton, and recently a couple of his workers have been using cement to reinforce some of the graves that have been cracking and crumbling due to time and the elements.

On Thursday they came across a tombstone so old and simplistic that the deceased's name, date of birth and date of death had been etched in the cement either with a stick or someone's finger, and to read it was almost like using Braille -- you had to run your fingers over the numbers and letters.

The person was born in 1845 and died in 1931, and the grave was in such bad shape that it was actually exposed and needed to be fixed.

When Ramos and the two city workers approached it they came across quite a shock. They could actually see the skull, jawbone and teeth of the person, and it was essentially intact.

"It wasn't like you see on TV," worker Andy Corea says. "It wasn't white. It was kind of yellow. I thought it would be vanished by now.

"There was a couple of teeth missing, but you could tell they had no cavities."

The workers did not disturb it. They simply patched the grave up with cement and moved on.

"Yeah," Ramos says. "It was quite an experience."

There are a few things at this particular cemetery that only add to the ambience. At two gravesites are two small voodoo dolls, and both graves have small holes dug next to them, like the way a dog would dig in the dirt.

Dirt from one of the holes is on one of the tombstones, while one of the voodoo dolls clearly has pins sticking in it.

Tidying it up

There are a few more oddities as well. At the gravesite of a lady who died in 1942 there is a spoon on top of her grave and Ramos thinks someone placed it there on purpose, though he does not know what the reasoning would be. …

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